John Platten

Even if you don’t follow Australian Rules football, there’s a good chance you’ve heard the name John Platten. And for good reason: “Platts” is a genuine champion of the game, and a true gentleman.

His story of growing up in Elizabeth and going on to achieve sporting greatness nationally is informed by a strong sense of family and community.

John speaks fondly, and with pride, of his upbringing in Elizabeth and of his hard-working, community-minded parents.  With their support, John and his eight siblings were all heavily involved in a range of sports. John is also proud of his family’s fifty-year association with the Elizabeth Football Club where he began as a junior. His son is currently playing there and brother Mick is Club President.

It was family that drew John back to SA after retiring from playing elite footy with Hawthorn in Melbourne. His mother was ill, and John says he was grateful he and his kids could spend quality time with her before she passed away.

Being back in SA also gave John an opportunity to return to the Central District Football Club where he got his start in senior football and to which he clearly feels a deep loyalty. He could see a chance to play in the club’s first ever premiership, something he really wanted to be a part of.

This would have been a very satisfying way to end his playing career but it was not to be. Having survived a long, tough career without sustaining serious injury, John broke his leg after only six games back at Centrals. This, however, didn’t diminish his joy at watching Centrals finally win their first premiership in 2000.

Since 2010, John has been an assistant coach at Centrals where he is enjoying passing on to younger players not just his vast knowledge of football but also his immense, undiminished passion for it.

As for Elizabeth and its future, John says he’s hopeful that, despite the closure of Holden in October, people will still have the opportunity to have the kind of rewarding life he remembers from growing up there.


John Platten





On the last lap

Visiting the local Holden’s factory at this significant time in Elizabeth’s history evoked mixed emotions.

Seeing an impressive high tech production line with skilled workers assembling new cars was intriguing. However, knowing that this will all soon grind to a halt generated sadness and concern.

The site is enormous and, for an operation slated to close, there is still a lot of activity. In some ways it is difficult to imagine the assembly line being permanently silenced and all the workers clocking off for the last time. For many Elizabethans, Holden has always been there. Adapting to an Elizabeth without it will be a challenging transition.

From a photographer’s perspective, the industrial landscape is always fascinating and full of possibilities. Interesting subject matter, colour, movement and the compositional potential all offer inspiration. To be able to capture Holden at this particular point in history adds another dimension. There is imbued in the images a certain poignancy beyond the surface visual.

I was thrilled and humbled to have the opportunity to visit the Elizabeth Holden factory. What is happening there is, of course, at the heart of the Elizabeth Project.

At times like these, I take comfort in the wisdom of T.S. Elliot,

“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.”

These photographs were taken with a phone, as this was an initial visit to scope more serious photography in coming weeks.

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